Liberal Christianity as a “Religion”
Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels in defense of Catholicism so frequently that I have named him Defender of the Faith, explains why liberal Protestantism deserves a place on the endangered species list:
Liberal Protestantism is dying. Rod Dreher says so in a recent column in The American Conservative, and the statistics back him up: for decades, liberal and mainline Protestantism has been on the decline in the US, with some denominations (such as the United Church of Christ) losing adherents so quickly that their future is in peril. Meanwhile, more conservative and evangelical denominations have generally held their own, or even experienced growth (see graph below). But liberal Protestantism in many ways exemplifies the best of what religion could be: it’s tolerant of differences, non-judgmental, open to scientific knowledge. Good stuff, right? So why is it that the open-minded liberal churches are dying out?
Golly gee willickers, it has to be painful to be this clueless. “Liberal Protestantism in many ways exemplifies the best of what religion could be,” only to someone who has absolutely no idea what religion actually is.
I guess I’m going to have to try to dumb this down even further and for the sake of brevity, I’m going to stick with the monotheistic religions but these principles apply to all religions. So here goes not much of anything.
Once they accept that, they’re kind of forced to accept three more concepts. Even if they never figure out what it is, there’s a reason why they’re here; after all, if you’re talented enough to speak existence into existence, why would Christopher Johnsons ever just sort of randomly turn up?
So if you’re here for a reason, even if you never ever understand what that reason is until you die, if then, does that not imply that the God who deliberately made you exist feels that your existence is important? And if your existence is important, does that not rather obligate you to try to live the way the God who made you exist wants you to live?
You can’t do that as well as you want to, of course. God, in His mercy, understands that and has provided vehicles of escape, the most sensible and efficacious being, according to this Christian, that vehicle provided by the Christian religion. That fellow on the Cross.
Go here to read the rest. CS Lewis put it rather well in Mere Christianity:
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. … Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God.
Why liberal Christianity is dying is precisely because it attempts to square this circle. “Christ is a great and admirable man but none of what he said binds us today because we are more enlightened. He started a great faith tradition with wonderful words about mercy and peace and love, and it is our job to continue this tradition without being bound by the cold text of his words, but rather being moved by the spirit that moved him.” Some such blather lies at the base of what passes for liberal Christianity, either of the Protestant or Catholic variety. Christ is not seen as He was: I AM, the Second Person of the Trinity, the Alpha and the Omega, but rather as merely a wise teacher, one among many like Plato, Buddha, etc. Christ becomes thereby not God to be followed and obeyed, but rather a tool in whose name we can put a pretty bow on our own ideas. Now most people, quite a bit of evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, are not fools. Over time they realize what is going on and they decide that such “religion”, which is merely the opinions of those currently in control of a “church” rather than timeless revelations from the Creator of All, is not worth their time or their support. The dying of liberal Christianity is occurring because to call such gatherings “religion” is to violate a rule of common sense contained in Lincoln’s story about a dog’s tail:
If you call a dog’s tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have? Four. Calling a tail a leg does not make it a leg.